Somehow I was lucky enough to convince Kasia W. to have coffee with me.
I contacted her in middle of the night in feverish despair and after hours of internet trolling. I was lost in the storm of bridal fashion images and she heard my prayer.
Kasia is a designer with an incredibly impressive background in red carpet celebrity and custom bridal work. Her fancy hands have been lent to J. Mandel, Vera Wang and Amsale. She does everything from building a wedding dresses from the ground up to gorgeous additions like tulle overskirts and chantilly lace veils .
We agreed to meet at a local cafe in Brooklyn just before she was to head into her studio.
“I haven’t found my dress yet either.” She said assuringly. Kasia was getting married as well.
I excitedly talked to her about my dress experience so far. I’d tried on seventeen dresses, purchased one dress, and returned said dress. I had ideas of mermaid fairies, wearing these slinky little sheaths with delicate lace details and illusion backs. Plus, I LOVE gold, gold leafing, gold lace, gold teeth… pause. What I had in mind and what actually looked best were in conflict. As it turns out, I look best in mermaid cuts that accentuated my curves and cinched at the waist. To add to my pain, wearing jeans and a cotton kimono is my usual go to. I like layered flowing pieces. The idea of showing so much of me was very scary.
Me: Do you think there are certain dress cuts that go with certain body types?
Her: Well, certainly there are some general guidelines, but it’s about what looks great on and what makes you feel hot.
(Here I was here to ask the wedding dress expert some very important questions, but I now found myself doing all the talking.)
Her: I like to find out about a person’s like and dislikes. It’s a little like psychotherapy. You have mommy issues which means that you probably won’t like lace.
Me: So tell me about yourself. Julie Mollo, our mutual friend, mentioned that you come from the A-list of bridal fashion?
Her: After graduating from Pratt, I worked for Vera Wang and then on to custom red carpet designs for J. Mandel and now my fiancé and I have started a different business. I freelance for Amsale and do custom bridal work as well.
Me: Why is there such a difference in cost between off the rack fashion dresses and bridal dresses?
Her: “There is just so much more than goes into the dress like the structure and boning, sometimes there are two or three layers of tulle and then the appliqués or beading, those things are a lot of work. Most of the beading work happens in India or China and they have to be sent out. When H&M sells a dress, the design work has been thought through, the patterns made, the production worked out.
Me: Is there then a case for custom bridal work?
Her: Custom work is even more expensive. If it isn’t, then there should be red flags. When a bridal piece is customized, all those things are done for the first and only time on one person.”
Me: What do you think about those online custom companies from China, etc.?
Her: Generally, manufacturing from China is not the best. There are issues with quality control, cutting corners to save money, and quality of fabrics.
(My thoughts: Like a Holloween costume?)
(Her thoughts: Exactly.)
Me: “How long does it generally take you to custom make a dress?”
Her: I would say six months, sometimes more.
Me: I had a friend that had a custom tulle overskirt made. She went to a dressmaker where she was pinned and had her measurements taken for a mermaid style tulle skirt. She then went to pick it up only to discover an A-line overskirt! Her designer tried to blame her for the mistake. Could there be a sketch or drawing to avoid this sort of thing?
Her: I always start with a sketch, then a fitting, then another fitting. What looks good on paper does not always translate to what looks good on the person.
A bride always has some vision in her mind. After 25-30 years of imagining, it really comes down to what she really wants. I will always offer an option, a better option, but in the end it’s about what she wants. It’s a difficult position.
There’s a lot of love that goes into designing and making a custom wedding dress. So now you have two people that are both emotional and passionate about the dress.
Me: What about veils? Do you do veils?
Her: There are tons of things that can be done with veils. ( She shows me an image of a custom tulle and lace veil)
Me: I find it hard to get information on veils and I don’t know much about them. Anything you told me to get, I’d probably love and then ask you to put gold leafing on it. I’d be happy.
Her: There’s Chantilly lace which is very light. Mantilla is a traditional Spanish lace. I wouldn’t do a veil in complete lace, it may be too heavy, but lined in lace it could be beautiful. This is a great place to add the gold that you like.
We ended our conversation with a quick hug, me doing most the squeezing, her dying to get out of my death grip and on to her studio for more creating.
love her! I’m so lucky.
My overall thoughts... Custom bridal work is expensive, but... nothing could be more a labor of love on your big day. Designs are priceless. However, we're in luck. Kasia publishes so many amazing ideas for free.99 on her blog Veiled-Threat.com